Poetry Sunday: July by Helen Hunt Jackson

Can it really be July? My garden says yes. The "flowers are withered" and "joys have died." Only the water lilies look fresh and unwilted. But "the white heat pales the skies" and I can't remember when we last had rain. It is unbearable to be outside in the middle of the day. Only in the early morning or late afternoon is it possible to be somewhat comfortable and to enjoy being outdoors. Already I'm longing for October. But first, we must survive the heat of July and August and hope for some reprieve in September. 


by Helen Hunt Jackson

Some flowers are withered and some joys have died;
The garden reeks with an East Indian scent
From beds where gillyflowers stand weak and spent;
The white heat pales the skies from side to side;
But in still lakes and rivers, cool, content,
Like starry blooms on a new firmament,
White lilies float and regally abide.
In vain the cruel skies their hot rays shed;
The lily does not feel their brazen glare.
In vain the pallid clouds refuse to share
Their dews, the lily feels no thirst, no dread.
Unharmed she lifts her queenly face and head;
She drinks of living waters and keeps fair.


  1. Summer heat can be unbearable, especially where you live, Dorothy. I can understand why you long for October. Even at the latitude where I live, I prefer the cooler months.

    1. July and August sometimes make us wish for a nice, friendly hurricane to blow away the heat for a few hours!

  2. Our flowers are struggling with the heat and lack of rain, too. That line in the poem that says "the cruel skies their hot rays shed" describes summer where I live very well.

    1. Exactly. It seems to perfectly describe our summers.

  3. I am grateful, after the years I spent in Kansas, Arkansas (and yes, one summer in Northern Texas) enduring their summers, that we in New York State get breaks in the heat. Of course, winter comes eventually, which is its own story. Why can't weather be perfect everywhere? I hope you get relief from your drought soon.

    1. But if our weather were perfect, we'd just have to find something else to complain about!

  4. I'm already wishing it were fall! We've had nearly two full weeks of temps right at 100 and this week we're going over that. Not to mention feel like temps!

  5. The heat wave in Texas sounds too tough for me ... but apparently not for the lily!

    1. It's too tough for me as well. I only go out for any extended period in the late afternoon. But the water lilies never flag. They always look fresh.


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